11 October 2016

Let's Celebrate our existence! #InternationalGirlChildDay

It has been a lovely day today. It is mother’s birthday, it is Dussehra and it is a holiday. How about you? 

Early morning when I opened Facebook, it notified me of an important day. Day of my existence, day of 90% of my reader’s existence… International Girl Child Day! 

My family has always celebrated the birth of daughters, celebrated my life and accomplishments more than I do. 

As I sit down to put down my thoughts together on this beautiful day, many thoughts cross my mind. Some good, some okay, some bad and some, demanding change.

In many parts of India, the birth of a girl child is not welcomed. Right from her arrival, she faces discrimination, humiliation, and oppression at every stage of life. When it comes to healthcare, education and growth opportunities, she is neglected because of her gender. Some manage to survive and foster new paths to follow. Most, however, surrender hopelessly to the sad fate assigned to them.

We all yearn to be part of a world where girls are celebrated. Where, they are treated equally, with love and respect. What is urgently required in society today is a change of attitude.

Girls must be given the same opportunities and protection as boys, and must be treated at par. A girl’s childhood can and must be preserved, cherished, nurtured and protected. Because, she has the right to survive, develop, be protected and participate in decisions that impact her life.

A UN-declared international observance day of the girl child, it celebrates her power and unique rights. Her dreams, virtues, desires, ambitions, courage and strength… It is the day to celebrate her existence.

“Girls by virtue of their gender face discrimination and challenges at every stage of their lives. The deep seated patriarchy combined with poverty keeps them away from many rights and comforts which generally come easily to boys. Be it female foeticide, education, health, early marriage or household responsibilities, girls are usually the first ones to suffer. That is precisely the reason why empowerment of girls is not just necessary but also the need of the hour. We have so many examples of girls who with the right support and guidance have shattered perceptions and stereotypes and have managed to make a mark for themselves despite the odds. We need to work towards a society that treats everyone equally and where girls don’t have to fight for a space that is rightfully theirs,” says Soha Moitra, CRY Regional Director – North.

Picture by CRY Volunteer Tapesh Kumar
Every day we hear stories of atrocities vs success of women/girls across the world and in our nation. How do we become a part of the movement to empower girls or how do we make sure that we do our part to give them the best? There are a few things that I like to believe in and take care of. For example: Education.

I have had friends whose parents decided to marry them off because it was their ‘age’ to do so. “Career can happen later,” these were their words. Say No. Unless you do feel that settling down is THE thing to do. Settle down when you want to, not when others want you to. Study, get education, pursue internships, and pursue your hobbies. There are way too many NGOs and workshops available around us. Make use of them! If you are capable enough, adopt a girl child OR teach kids of your house maids or driver, etc. Knowledge passed onto others always helps you too.

I came across a wonderful case study by the team CRY India on this regard – No teacher, no Study! Happy reading :)

14 year old Suman’s inspiring story is an example of how empowerment can help bring about a change. Suman’s school in Hasiyawas, Ajmer had been upgraded from primary to upper primary in 2014 but no additional teachers were recruited for more than a year leading to irregular classes and poor learning outcome. By the time Suman reached class 8th there were only teachers left to teach close to 150 students in the school. Having seen no improvement over the past one year Suman decided to take matter in her hands. She decided to boycott her classes along with her friends. Slowly more and more students joined her, preferring to help their parents in their work rather than going to school and learn nothing. This prompted the principal to escalate the matter to the Block Education officer who promised to look into the matter. Meanwhile Suman mobilized the Education committee as well as other villagers to campaign for better education in the school. They met various stakeholders to make them aware of their problems. To further pressurize the administration students along with their parents also locked the school building and threatened to take transfer from this school. Worried about the developing situation and seeing the children’s resolve the District Education Officer quickly sanctioned recruitment of additional teachers.

Suman’s persistance and unique ways forced the education department to finally recruit three teachers after a gap of almost 2 years. Children in the village not only regularly go to school now but are also determined not to let anything come in the way of their education.

Just a simple thought, a stern decision and result? Brighter future! What is your step? How will you contribute to the difference?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below :)

Keep believing in your dreams!